The Importance Of Basics

Over the years, I have based my life and fitness philosophy around the importance of respecting and honoring the basics. In life, the basics may pertain to getting out into nature and throwing your shoes aside so you can dig your soles into the ground. In nutrition, the basics could revolve around making sure you have a well-balanced nutrition plan that includes healthy proteins, fats, and carbs all while supporting that with plenty of clean water. 

Those concepts may spark thoughts of, “Duh, no kidding,” but the basics are not always so clear. In exercise and fitness, they can become lost in all the advice out there on the best ways to get in shape or to lose weight or to hone in on your “weak areas.” There are workout crazes and trainers who emphasize more aggressive, non-functional training to spice up a workout session. Now, I am not against these exercises – I even incorporate them into my own workouts and the workouts of my clients because my training style emphasizes fun and innovation. But, I also emphasize a training program that dials back intermittently to focus on the basic exercises. Sometimes getting away from them and focusing on achieving some crazy exercise pose ends up creating sloppy form in the basics. That can set you up for injury! Why would you consistently pile on increasing loads of weight onto a bar for chest presses if you can not perform 10-20 repetitions of controlled and proper bodyweight push-ups? It makes no sense to me. Getting off the floor or a chair or the toilet is for life. Throwing around dumbbells sloppily is not. So, let’s honor the basics and talk about my top 5 biggies, making sure you know how to do them properly. Perform them in front of a mirror or have someone video/photograph you so you can analyze and see exactly what you do. With each exercise, I provided a link to the exercise on and I noted the key areas in your form to pay attention to. So, just how awesome are your basics?

1. Push-ups:



Pointers for perfection:

  • Keep your hands under your shoulders
  • Maintain tight abs and a trunk that is in a straight line with the rest of the body
  • Keep elbows slightly away from the body to target the chest
  • Use slow controlled movements and lower your body as low as your shoulders and elbows are comfortable, aiming for touching your chest to the floor
  • Maintain a neutral cervical spine
  • Drop to your knees if a full plank is too difficult

2. Squats:



Pointers For Perfection:

  • Keep abs in tight and shoulders retracted back (squeezing shoulder blades)
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart and knees are lined up with the toes throughout the entire move
  • Push your rear end back and allow your torso to naturally bend at the hips
  • Knees should be behind your toes
  • Only squat as low as your knees and joints are pain-free

3. Pull-ups:



Pointers For Perfection:

  • To start and throughout the move, keep chest elevated towards the ceiling and your gaze on an upward angle
  • Hand grip should be a little wider than shoulder width
  • Core muscles are tight
  • Swinging is minimal to prevent gravity from taking over
  • If this is too challenging to start, there are alternatives to build your strength, including eccentric pull-ups

4. Lunges:



Pointers For Perfection:

  • Core muscles are tight and torso is upright
  • When lunging forward, keep knees in line with toes and lunge straight down to the floor, not forward and leaning over knees
  • Your back heel will raise and the knee will bend with the lunge
  • The back toes should be pointed forward
  • If the exercise hurts your knees, hips, or ankles, do not lunge so deep

5. Tricep Dips:



Pointers For Perfection:

  • When dipping down, make sure that elbows stay closer to the body instead of winging out
  • Keep torso tall and abs tight
  • Make sure that your rear end stays close to the bench at all times
  • If feet on a bench is too hard, you can start with feet on the floor. Just don’t use them to press upwards from the dip

For all the exercises, work towards performing multiple sets of 10-15 with perfect form before adding any resistance to increase the intensity.


Take action now! What do your basics look like? Is your form and alignment for each up to par or do you need to work on them? Remember, these moves are the basis of pure strength and keeping your body strong and injury-free. Here is a fit test: Do as many as you can of each in a 1 minute time frame, making sure your form is proper and you do not have pain. See what your fit level looks like and make it a goal to retest monthly and improve regularly.  I want you to comment below or email me through my website, Facebook, or Twitter and tell me all about your results and discoveries.

Does your form all ready looking pretty spot on? If so, how can you add weight or challenge into the exercise? Need ideas? Contact me at to chat! I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…

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